Honduras Holiday Planning Guide
A vacation in Honduras can be an affordable and exciting addition to your Central American itinerary. Often undeservedly overlooked because of the high crime rate in a few of its cities, the country boasts pristine natural wonders, a rich history, and a vibrant atmosphere. From the vivacious Afro-Caribbean culture of the north shore, to the vast mountains and cloud forests of its national parks, Honduras has a lot to offer to the adventurous tourist. Visiting the ancient Mayan ruins of Copan, diving on Bay Islands, and admiring the colonial architecture in the capital remain just some of the things to do in Honduras.
Places to Visit in Honduras
Regions of HondurasFrancisco Morazan Department
: The mountain-covered region shelters subtropical cloud forests and national parks, while its northern portion remains the home of indigenous Jicaque people.Cortes Department
: This region may be the nation's main industrial and agricultural hub, but thanks to its remarkable beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and unbridled natural beauty, it's also one of the most popular places to visit in Honduras. Atlantida Department
: Many tourists remember their visit to this area by its attractive resorts, vibrant beach parties, and pleasant Caribbean weather. Copan Department
: Famed for producing fine cigars and tobacco, this department contains some of the most important archeological sites from the Mayan period.Comayagua Department
: This region served as a great source of gold, emerald, silver, and precious jewels throughout its history, but now it also boasts some of the country's best-preserved Spanish colonial structures.Utila
: A charming island offering hotels, restaurants, and developed beaches--as well as impenetrable wilderness--Utila serves as Latin America's center for learning how to dive. Roatan
: Roatan offers visitors many adventures, including cruising, fishing, and scuba diving trips.
Cities in HondurasTegucigalpa
: Although the nation's capital remains a great example of urban sprawl gone amok, it still contains a fascinating plethora of decaying colonial buildings, hidden parks, stone streets, and quaint residences scattered across its hills. San Pedro Sula
: This city can be found on most Honduras itineraries because it contains a wide array of interesting attractions, such as vibrant markets and artisan workshops--nearby points of interest include national parks, caves, waterfalls, archaeological sites, and exotic beaches.La Ceiba
: Thanks to tourism and recent infrastructure development, La Ceiba serves as an excellent base for visiting a nearby national park, wildlife refuge, ethnic Garifuna villages, and exotic islands.Copan
: Honduras tourism sector relies heavily on Copan attractions, which include a large archaeological site featuring well-preserved Mayan art and ceremonial architecture. Tela
: This sleepy coastal town known for its Afro-Caribbean communities with a distinct culture and language slowly worked its way into becoming an important beach destination.
Popular Honduras Tourist AttractionsLittle French Key
: Located on the southern shore of the paradise-like island of Roatan, this private resort offers all sorts of entertaining and relaxing daily activities, including swimming, horseback riding, massages, and interacting with animals in a private zoo. West Bay Beach
: Known for its powdery white sand, remarkable sunsets, and nearby coral reefs suitable for snorkeling, the beach boasts restaurants and attractive private accommodations. Copan Ruinas
: Near the modern town of the same name rests one of the grandest ruins the Maya left behind, decorated with amazing pre-Columbian art.
Mahogany Beach: Clear waters, soft white sands, well-equipped water sport facilities, nearby hiking trails, and onshore bars at Mahogany Beach are all that you need for a care-free Honduras vacation. Gumbalimba Park
: Suited for both adventurers and loungers, this park represents a perfect one-day destination where you can interact with parrots and monkeys, ride ziplines through the jungle, explore underwater wildlife, or just relax in a hammock. Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve
: Visit the protected home of rescued birds to spot toucans, parrots, and macaws, living in a lush park covered by canopies of mahogany and cedar trees. Tabyana Beach
: Ideal for those looking for water-based activities, this beach offers world-class snorkeling, facilities suited for lounging and swimming, and bars serving all sorts of delicious cocktails. Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences - Anthony's Key Resort
: The institute and laboratory located on an exotic island focuses on studying and preserving delicate marine life, while also striving to bring new experiences to tourists. Maya Key
: Spruce up your Honduras holiday by visiting this small tropical island with secluded powdery beaches, where you can go snorkeling to explore colorful coral reefs.Cayos Cochinos
: Explore a group of secluded tropical islands with powdery white beaches, where you can go on relaxing boat trips, try handline fishing, swim in the warm Caribbean waters, and eat freshly prepared seafood delicacies.
Planning a Honduras Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Honduras with Kids
You'll find plenty of educational and recreational places to visit in Honduras, which children will find fascinating and memorable. Roatan
, for instance, possess great facilities for various water sports--well-trained instructors there can teach your kids to swim or dive there. Copan
can bring your kids closer to understanding the ancient Mayan civilization and their contribution to humankind's technological and architectural advancements.
If you wish to teach your children about the importance of living in harmony with nature, take them to La Ceiba
, where they can explore rainforests and exotic beaches, and spot wildlife outside of the urban areas.
Things to Do in Honduras with Kids
Besides making sandcastles on beaches and having fun in hotels, your kids can enjoy a variety of rewarding activities during your trip to Honduras.
History-inspired sightseeing in Copan Ruinas
reveals a significant site built by a now-extinct civilization.
Exotic birds and other animals can be found at the family-friendly Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve
. Here, kids can learn about nature conservation and encounter rescued macaws, toucans, and parrots.
One of the best places to examine various animals while also enjoying the warm sun and sandy beaches is at private zoo at Little French Key
, an island paradise ideal for getting away from your daily life and unwinding with the family.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Honduras
There are many beachfront hotels suited for a family-oriented Honduras holiday, but reaching certain destinations outside of hotel compounds can be exhausting for kids, especially during transit.
Renting a car may be the best solution in such cases, since long bus rides can be extremely tiring and boring for kids, and their grumpiness and protests might affect the rest of the people on board.
Restaurants and hotels found in popular tourist zones serve baby food and contain diaper changing facilities. Should you opt to explore rural areas less-visited by foreigners, pack plenty of food, diapers, and other baby necessities with your other luggage.
Insect repellent will suffice in most places, but you if you want to play it safe, check in advance which parts of the country might require precautionary vaccinations against malaria.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Honduras
Cuisine of Honduras
Honduran cuisine represents a mixture of indigenous Lenca, Caribbean, African, and Spanish culinary influences. Coconut and its milk are usually featured in savory and sweet meals, especially on Bay Islands
Popular dishes include "carne asada," or grilled and sliced steaks. Regional specialties also include "baleadas" or stuffed tortillas, corn tamales wrapped in plantain leaves, fried fish, and various seafood delicacies.
Local soups are also something you must try on your Honduras vacation, including tripe and bean soups, as well as beef and seafood soups.
Shopping in Honduras
Honduras possesses an abundance of air-conditioned shopping malls and mega stores, as well as small traditional markets where local artisans display their handmade wares and goods.
Big shopping centers are gaining popularity among the nation's middle class living in the major cities. If you'd rather avoid the mall experience, head to Copan
, considered an arts and crafts hub known for its wooden carvings, colonial-style paintings, jewelry, and other accessories sold at affordable prices. City mall Tegucigalpa
and Mercado de Artesanias Guamilito
are excellent places to find inexpensive crafts, household items, clothes, Lenca pottery, hand-woven fabric, a wide array of fresh fruit and vegetables, and souvenirs to take back from your Honduras holiday.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Honduras
Interesting Facts About Honduras
● Copan Ruinas
remain the main source of learning about Mayan history
● Honduran currency, the Lempira is named after a Native American Indian who died protecting these lands from Spaniards
● Calling Hondurans "catrachos" or "catrachas" isn't an insult, but a nickname within Central America
● Honduras is one of Central America's poorest countries, with half of the its population living in poverty
Things You Should NOT Do in Honduras
Unless you travel with your own security detail or experienced guide, avoid straying away from the main tourist areas during your Honduras trip, as criminal organizations often conduct various illegal activities, especially in San Pedro Sula.
Confine your beach wear and shorts only to the Bay Islands and mainland coastal resorts. Dress conservatively elsewhere without revealing too much skin, especially when you visit smaller villages.
Women should never travel alone in urban areas, and ignore catcalls if they occur. If you must travel alone, use a taxi to cover longer distances within cities.
Don't flash your cash or valuables in public, and use a money belt with a sufficient daily amount.
Holidays & Festivals in Honduras
Most cities and villages in Honduras honor their patron saints with annual events. These Christian holidays often include street parades and various public performances.
One of the biggest carnivals in Central America is held in La Ceiba
on the third Saturday in May. It honors Saint Isidore the Laborer, culminating with a grand parade and an all-night party on the city's main thoroughfare.
If you want to experience a truly unique festival during your Honduras vacation, Punta Gorda held on Roatan
in April is one of the biggest indigenous celebrations in the country. It commemorates the arrival of the Garifuna people in Central America.San Pedro Sula
hosts a grand music festival during the last week of June. Visitors come to eat, drink, and dance, and the entire event climaxes as a parade down Avenida Circunvalacion.
Useful Honduras Travel Tips
Common Greetings in Honduras
Greeting people in Honduras usually involves a firm handshake or a humble nod. Good friends usually hug or kiss on the cheek--public displays of affection are common here.
Spanish is the primary spoken language, but you can also use English in bigger cities and popular tourist areas. In some areas the Spanish and English have been merged and hybridized to the point that the native speakers of both languages consider this blend incomprehensible at times.
Climate of Honduras
Honduras enjoys a warm tropical climate, with temperatures ranging between 16 C and 20 C (61 F and 68 F) in the mountains. The northern coast tends to be the warmest part of the country, but the Pacific side also possesses a hot and dry climate with temperatures between 28 C and 32 C (82 F and 90 F).
The high season in Honduras lasts between January and June. The wet season is at its peak between the beginning of fall and early winter--this is likely the worse time for a holiday in Honduras due to flooding and landslides in some areas.
Note that the hurricane season in the Caribbean last between June and November.
Transportation in Honduras
Buses are the least expensive and most convenient mean of transportation in Honduras, but you can also easily find car rental companies in most major cities and on Roatan Island.
Note that rental costs are much lower if you rent a vehicle from companies located away from airport zones.
Affordable domestic airlines offer a decent solution for those looking to tour Honduras quickly and comfortably. Ferries run on a daily basis between the mainland and the islands, providing an additional method for sightseeing in a fast and stress-free way.
Tipping in Honduras
Tipping is a recommended practice in Honduras, especially in hotels, bars, and restaurants, since most guides, servers, and cleaning staff depend on gratuity to make a living. Tips usually represent an important part of their daily income--note that it's better to award their efforts with local currency than American dollars.
In restaurants and bars, a 10 percent tip will likely be added to your bill. If you were provided commendable service, you can leave an additional tip for your server, but do it in cash to ensure the intended recipient actually gets it.
Although not mandatory, tipping guides during a tour of Honduras is an expected practice. Amounts depend on your satisfactions, and the time you spend with your guide. Use your discretion and common sense, or ask a local about an acceptable amount to tip.
Tipping taxi drivers is not a customary practice in Honduras, but leaving a small amount will always be much appreciated.